TFC captain and long-time Canadian international Jim Brennan has become the first significant player to speak out against the current state of the CSA. Angry that he was not personally informed that he was left off the team for the next set of qualifying games, Brennan announced that he was “temporally stepping away” from the Nats.
He added that he did not see “eye to eye” with head coach Dale Mitchell or the CSA and that was a big part of his decision. He is willing to rejoin the team for next year’s Gold Cup if Mitchell is no longer coaching.
This is a major development in the ongoing efforts to force the old guard out at the CSA. Up until today the only people beating the drums of protest were disgruntled fans and malcontents. For a player to issue an ultimatum is something that will have a far greater impact than a bunch of (mostly) guys wearing black t-shirts at a friendly ever could.
Brennan suggested that other players are likely to step forward once Canada is eliminated from the World Cup—something that, sadly, could come as early as this Saturday.
One thing that’s clear is that Mitchell has lost the confidence of the players. In a perfect world he would have been sacked following the loss to Honduras (actually in a perfect world he wouldn’t have been hired in the first place) and replaced with Stephen Hart. Brennan mentioned Hart by name as someone that “he always has time for” and it was under the Halifax via Trinidad-native that the Nats played their best ever soccer at last year’s Gold Cup. Hart’s not the best long-term answer, but he’s obviously the player’s choice. And that matters in international football where players are parachuted in for short periods of time.
The other thing this likely means is that any hope for a miracle comeback by thew boys in red is pretty much gone. It’s likely that the players are looking to mail it in Saturday and get back to their clubs (and livelihood). Another World Cup cycle will be lost.
And the fans of Canadian soccer continue to pound their heads against that cement wall…